Hundreds of people travelled from Faro to Lisbon on Sunday to hand-deliver the town’s official bid to become a European Capital of Culture in 2027. ‘Faro 2027’ coordinator Bruno Inácio tells the Resident that the foundations for a richer cultural life in Faro have already been laid no matter the outcome of the bid.
“It may seem like a cliché to say this, but we have already won,” Inácio tells us. “The process which we have started is irreversible.”
Faro’s interest in becoming a European Capital of Culture dates back many years and has seen those involved hard at work for around three years.
One of the largest achievements has been the creation of a Strategic Plan for Culture which aims to act as the guide for the municipality’s cultural sector for the next 10 years.
Like the borough’s bid for European Capital of Culture, this plan was created with the input of anyone who had ideas to contribute.
“We did not want to shut ourselves off. Our mentality was always that everyone is welcome,” Inácio explains.
Open calls, conferences, interviews and workshops were all held in a bid to collect as many ideas as possible. AMAL (Algarve Municipalities Association), the University of the Algarve, the Algarve tourism board (RTA) and the regional development commission (CCDR Algarve) have also contributed, giving the bid a regional scope.
“Although the bid is for Faro to become a European Capital of Culture, because the rules do not allow the Algarve to run as a region, the region will benefit as a whole.”
This inclusive mindset has created quite a movement in Faro, which may explain why around 400 people (from everyday citizens to artists and bikers) made the journey to the Ministry of Culture in Lisbon on Sunday to hand-deliver the borough’s ‘Bidbook’ – the book containing the plans that Faro wishes to implement as a Capital of Culture.
Among those in attendance were the Grupo Folcórico de Faro, Grupo Coral Ossónoba, Banda Filarmónica de Faro and Urban Xpressione who all performed during the ceremony, as well as representatives from local associations such as Associação Doina Algarve, Associação Nossa Senhora dos Navegantes, Associação de Proteção à Rapariga e à Familia, Refood Faro and Sociedade Recreativa Bordeirense.
Members of the town’s Moto Clube de Faro – the iconic bikers’ club responsible for hosting the yearly bikers’ rally which attracts thousands of bikers from all over the world – also travelled hundreds of kilometres to attend the event.
“It was a joy to see hundreds of people travelling to Lisbon on a Sunday to deliver the bid to the Ministry of Culture,” Faro Mayor Rogério Bacalhau tells the Resident, adding that that the celebratory nature of the event aimed to “thank everyone who, throughout these three or four years, has actively and indirectly participated in this bid.”
As he explains, “thousands of people have been involved in this process. Culture is alive in Faro and the Algarve.
“As I told those hundreds of people in Lisbon, the result is not what’s important at this moment. Faro and the Algarve have already won. This wave cannot be turned around,” the mayor adds.
While those behind the initiative are overjoyed with how the process has gone, they are also aware that actually being named a European Capital of Culture will allow Faro to do things the town would otherwise be unable to.
“If we win, there will obviously be more energy and other possibilities,” says Inácio.
In July, the Portuguese government confirmed that around €25 million will be made available to Portugal’s winning bid for European Capital of Culture. Apart from Faro, there are 11 other towns in the running: Aveiro, Braga, Coimbra, Évora, Funchal, Guarda, Leiria, Oeiras, Ponta Delgada, Viana do Castelo, and Vila Real.
In Faro, the areas that need improvement are clear.
“We already have some cultural agents who do a great job, but we need more. We want to increase the borough’s cultural production,” the coordinator adds.
Carrying out renovation works and making investments that solidify culture as a new source of attraction for Faro and as something that can improve the quality of life of those who live there are among the other goals.
The shortlist of finalists for European Capital of Culture will be revealed in the first trimester of 2022. The winners will be announced in 2023.
You can learn more about Faro’s bid by visiting www.faro2027.eu. There is a wealth of information (in English) about the projects and initiatives being developed in Faro to bolster the municipality’s cultural sector.
What is the goal of the European Capitals of Culture initiative?
According to the European Commission (EC) website, the European Capitals of Culture (ECOC) initiative is designed to “highlight the richness and diversity of cultures in Europe, celebrate the cultural features Europeans share, increase European citizens’ sense of belonging to a common cultural area and foster the contribution of culture to the development of cities”.
Organisers also say that “experience has shown that the event is an excellent opportunity for regenerating cities, raising the international profile of cities; enhancing the image of cities in the eyes of their own inhabitants, breathing new life into a city’s culture and boosting tourism”.
The initiative was developed in 1985 and has, to date, been awarded to more than 60 cities across the European Union (EU) and beyond.
Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, no new European Capitals of Culture were named in 2021.
Have any ideas? Let Faro Council know
One of the ways Faro Council accepted ideas during the process was through a booth that was set up at the municipal market near the fruits and fish sections.
The booth has been so successful that the council has decided to keep it running even though the bid has already been delivered.
“People can use it to call attention to a pothole in a road or to let us know what they feel is missing in Faro,” Inácio says.
By Michael Bruxo